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MFA live

Posted by Sebastian Smee  November 15, 2010 01:11 PM

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So what does it feel like, now that it's open?

Members and their guests have been pouring through the Museum of Fine Arts and its new Art of the Americas Wing all day. Director Malcolm Rogers was meeting and greeting in the big courtyard that stands between the Sharf Visitor Center and the four levels of the wing itself. The cafe started seating diners at around 11.30am, and within half an hour a long line had formed, but it appeared to be moving quickly. "It was a little spicy," I overheard one lady say about an unidentified dish, but on the whole people seemed happy, and despite the cavernous space and the preponderance of hard surfaces, the acoustics seemed good. There was - and is (I'm sitting in the courtyard right now - free wifi!) - a casual atmosphere that is pleasantly hushed - athough perhaps that's because almost everyone is over 50: it's still members' week.

Rogers is still here: he's having lunch with four guests, one of whom is the photographer Mario Testino. (And as I write that, a waiter has just dropped a dozen plates, no doubt curious himself about the acoustics...)

The galleries themselves look marvelous, filled at last with people. They do not feel crowded, despite the high turn out. My plan is to go through all 53 of them, one by one, and pick out things to tell you about in each. Or at least most (53 is a lot, mm?) But I need a coffee first.

The line is long again, so I may head over to the other side of the museum, to the old Galleria cafe outside the bookshop, where instead of the old table service you can now buy boxed lunches (mezze plate, clam showder, glazed miso salmon etc) for high but not quite obscene prices.

Almost the best thing today is seeing the MFA staff buzzing about enjoying the space and the finished galleries for the first time - and with deserved satisfaction. These people have been working around the clock on mind-bogglingly difficult logistical problem, and the stress has only increased as the deadlines loomed. Now, they're seeing the galleries filled with people, and they can't conceal their excitement. Good for them.

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